Every network OEM out there offers some variation of an LLW. There are nuances across each, but the basic premise is the same. When you’re working with a network service provider, how do you really know if an LLW will be enough, or if you should opt for a more in-depth services contract?
The answer really depends on the complexity of your solution and your tolerance for downtime. To get more insights, I sat down with Extreme’s VP of Global Service Fields, Rob Rosa, to talk about the differences between the two and how customers can make an informed decision. Here is a glimpse of our Q&A:
Question #1: Rob what exactly is your role at Extreme?
Rob: My role is Vice President of Global/Worldwide Service Fields. My team is responsible for maintenance renewals and selling new services with Extreme solutions including Smart OmniEdge, Automated Campus, and Agile Data Center. We wrap services around those product sets, whether for maintenance, professional services, or high-level services like premier.
Our goal is to build a better, more holistic relationship with the customer and grow the value they get out of working with Extreme. The end result is happier customers and greater satisfaction versus simply selling a product and turning them loose with a limited lifetime warranty.
Question #2: What is a limited lifetime warranty, and what can customers expect from this kind of agreement?
Rob: First off, all network providers have a warranty policy related to their products. Depending on the specific product, the limited lifetime warranty is the level of support that’s included with purchase. Basically, it will contain varying levels of services from simply purchasing the product.
Now, in some cases, it’s possible for a customer to buy a product, install it, and run it for many years, relying only on their LLW. We don’t necessarily recommend taking this route, but we’ll get to use cases later.
Question #3: What are the differences between an LLW and a maintenance services contract?
Rob: All right, so here are the main differences—I’m going to talk about them through the Extreme lens.
The first difference is, if a customer buys a product and opts for LLW, the box arrives, they unwrap it, plug it in, and it’s not working, under the LLW they can call our global technical assistance center, GTAC, and speak to an engineer. The engineer will then troubleshoot the actual box and determine whether it’s DOA. If you were to call GTAC for the same situation under the services contract, they’ll actually troubleshoot the entire process. They’ll look at the network and figure out if it’s a configuration problem.
Second, there’s hardware. If you purchase a box under LLW and it doesn’t work or stops working, it’ll get replaced, but it’s not going to be expedited. So, if this problem is causing downtime, you have to wait it out. If you purchase a product and a problem arises under a maintenance services contract, you have choices from an RMA perspective. You can choose next business day delivery, next business day on-site, four hours, four hours on site, etc. So if you have our wireless Smart OmniEdge solution, and you know your data center is critical infrastructure to the network, then the cost of downtime outweighs the cost of not buying a maintenance contract.
Finally, there’s software to consider. An LLW will cover security patches and minor fixes, but you don’t get updates or upgrades. So, as an example, if Extreme releases version 9.0 as a new version, then we use 9.0 as a major upgrade. If in that upgrade there’s feature functionality a customer wants to leverage, that isn’t part of an LLW. However, under maintenance services, customers get complete access to the software and can upgrade devices as many times as they want. Every time there’s a new feature they’d like to leverage, they can upgrade.
Question #4: How would you sum up the real value of maintenance services for a new customer?
Rob: Easy! There are three main values: timeliness, reliability, and speed to case resolution with our GTAC.
Question #5: When does it make sense to stick with an LLW?
Rob: This is a really important consideration. I’d tell customers to start with the cost of downtime. The truth is, maintenance services are an excellent option, but they’re not always necessary.
So—ask yourself, “Is this critical infrastructure? Can I sustain my business with an outage longer than one day because we’re relying on LLW? Are there features and functionality we’ll want in the future based on our roadmap?” If your needs can’t be sustained with an LLW, then you’re going to want to think about services.
But, if you have a concentrated location, it might make sense to live on LLW because you have some extra spheres, maybe one building or small customer and it’s wireless. You might buy a couple of extra wireless access points if one breaks and then you know you can plug it in and leverage warranty to send the broken one back. That’d be an example of a good reason to stick with the LLW.
Question #6: What advice would you give to a customer who’s evaluating a warranty versus maintenance?
Rob: An LLW is a check-the-box type of offering. It’s a need-to-have. But given the world we live in with the increasing sophistication in technology, most customers are going to need more than a basic warranty. You deserve to be able to rely on Extreme for those services, get the product working, and keep it working.
Listen, we do have a great product set. So it’s natural for some people to think the products won’t break. We value our customers who opt for LLW and our customers who opt for maintenance, and we’ll continue to do business with them regardless. Our role is to guide you in deciding what makes the most sense for your business.
Question #7: Extreme Networks has gone through a number of acquisitions and organizational changes in recent years. How have maintenance services evolved as a result?
Rob: Well, the last two years, Extreme Networks has ranked #1 for services. It’s a discussion we like to have with every customer to determine when it will really add value. I consider it our responsibility to help them determine what infrastructure assets they can live without and which ones they can’t; it’s similar to a life insurance policy, and we’ve really made that a priority.
Question #8: How does the Extreme approach to maintenance services differ from other network vendors in the industry?
Rob: The first and most important piece of our maintenance is that we’re 100% insourced. We have 100% Extreme badge employees, and that’s big. That’s a lot different than any other OEM out there. If you call another vendor with a problem, you’re more than likely going to get a call center. With most OEMs, you’re just not going to get that level of personalization and undivided attention.
That’s not the case here. At Extreme, we recognize that in many cases, a technical resource is calling into troubleshoot, and we’re not going to slow down the process with basic troubleshooting advice that frustrates them. We have level one and two engineers who will resolve 85%-90% of issues; we also have level three and four engineers. If escalation exceeds level four, we have direct tieback to the PLM and Extreme engineering group, and it’s all about getting the product back up and running and making certain the customer is satisfied, quickly.